Your email marketing as a business is likely to be one of the most profitable returns on your company’s investments. If you haven’t already, then you’ll soon learn that building an email list is helpful for businesses of all shapes and sizes.
While email lists are fantastic for business marketing, they often fall victim to bots. Bots are a frustrating part of the internet, causing confusion and presenting a false narrative that leads to poor decision-making.
Chances are, your email metrics aren’t as accurate as you would hope they were. Click data of emails is becoming harder to trust with 20% of clicks coming from automated bots. Unfortunately, bots aren’t always going to benefit your business’s success.
With that being said, how to protect your email list from bots is useful knowledge to acquire. This guide will explain what bots are, the disadvantages they present to companies worldwide, and how to protect your email lists from bots in the future.
What is a bot?
A bot – otherwise referred to as a robot or internet bot is a computer program whereby it operates as an agent for a user/program to simulate human activity.
Bots are typically used for the automation of tasks, which allows humans to step back and allow them to run without giving any specific instructions. Bots are a lot faster than humans and therefore will carry out useful functions with very little hassle.
However, they are also used for more malicious intent, particularly when it comes to malware attacks.
How do bots work and what are they used for?
Bots usually operate via a network and usually communicate with one another over internet-based services. Bots are made up of sets of algorithms that are created to help assist them with their intended tasks.
Bots are used for businesses in several ways, such as chatbots. Chatbots use machine learning to learn human input and scan for keywords mentioned that then trigger an interaction. Other types of bots include:
- Transactional bots
- Monitoring bots
- Social bots
- Spiders or web crawlers
In general, bots are a great addition to a company’s day-to-day activities. However, they do have their disadvantages.
The disadvantages of bots
According to Juniper Research, by 2023 alone, chatbots are expected to save businesses up to 2.5 billion hours of work.
Of course, bots offer great opportunities for businesses, particularly those that are growing at exponential rates and perhaps need more hands to make light work. Despite their advantages, there are downsides to bots that are worth delving into further.
❌ Bots can’t always be set to perform tasks
While a lot of tasks may be automated, not all specific tasks have the capacity to be performed to the exact requirements needed. Some may risk misunderstanding users and that will often cause more work as a result.
The intricacies of some tasks have not yet been mastered or may not be able to be automated as successfully as others have been.
❌ Humans still need to manage the bots
For bots to work properly for customers and users alike, humans are still required to manage the bots. While some bots make it easier on businesses and their workforce’s workloads, not all bot activities can go unsupervised, and most still need to be managed.
❌ Bots are used for spam and malicious intent
Spam bots send spam messages via emails but they’re also able to post spam in various places where users will interact online – like social media platforms for example. Many are often inappropriate or frustrating to deal with.
Malware bots and bots in general are very easily programmed and hacked to help break into user accounts, send spam, or perform other harmful activities.
5 ways to protect your email list from bots
You may only encounter several bots in your email list but often enough, spam bot attacks are the norm. However, not all businesses pay attention to their email lists, let alone pursue any action from them.
In fact, according to one statistic, businesses are leaving bot attacks unaddressed for an average of nearly four months.
1. Use DataDome’s bot detection software.
To help businesses that know very little about bot attacks and their influence on email list performance, bot detection software is useful to implement.
One such example is DataDome. DataDome’s bot detection capabilities are vast and are encompassed in one, easy-to-use platform.
Whether it’s your website, mobile app, or APIs, software such as this one helps to provide an excellent level of protection from bot attacks.
Processing in real-time, the software analyzes millions of pieces of data to determine the authenticity of users and restricts access grants should they be required. As a result, the appearance of bots is easily mitigated and further insights are provided for businesses looking to actively prevent bots from attacking their email list.
2. Introduce double opt-in and two-factor authentication.
When users sign up to your email list, they are often required to opt-in to receive marketing emails. These single opt-ins are easily surpassable for spam bots but requiring double opt-ins will help stop them from infiltrating the email list altogether.
For double opt-ins, it requires the user to not only sign up but to open and click a confirmation email before they’re added to the subscriber list. As bots aren’t real people, they’re unable to follow up with this process.
Alongside double opt-ins, it’s worth adding an extra layer when it comes to your user’s online profile security process.
With two-factor authentication or 2FA for short, it requires the user to provide two forms of identification when logging into a website. For example, not only will they have to enter a password, but they’ll receive a code to another device whether that’s their email or via SMS. They’ll need this code to sign in successfully.
Using this security process helps prevent bot attacks where forms are required for the user to fill in before signing up for the email newsletter.
3. Make use of CAPTCHA.
A CAPTCHA is a program that protects websites against bots. The user is offered a simple test to determine whether the user is a human. CAPTCHA uses a distorted image of letters or numbers which must be transcribed correctly by the user.
If the CAPTCHA is filled in successfully, the user will be allowed to submit the form. If the program deems the user to be a bot, then it will be unable to submit the form.
It’s another form of protection from bots that is handy when your business in particular has found itself at the mercy of bot attacks recently.
3. Block any spam domains you become aware of.
There are many spam domains out there that you may be able to get ahead of blocking before they try to infiltrate your email list.
It may be handy to get in touch with security and IT experts within the know, that can help actively block any spam domains or specific IPs from visiting your website.
By blocking the specific IP or domain address, you have more control of the flood that comes with bot attacks. To do this, you may wish to use a web server firewall or a content delivery network to block these addresses.
5. Keep software up-to-date and monitor sign-up activities.
The software you use as a business plays an important role in your email subscriber lists. In one statistic, around 31% of companies surveyed, detected attempts to exploit software vulnerabilities.
With that being said, management of your software to ensure they’re up-to-date is key. Aside from that, monitoring your sign-up activities will also help prevent as many bots from getting onto your email list as possible.
You could implement a team or software that allows your workforce to keep a close eye on sign-ups and to ensure all of them are legitimate when it comes to humans vs bot users.
By staying on top of the sign-up activities, you’re able to easily identify any evidence of bot attacks and a spike in email sign-ups that may be due to bots specifically.
Conclusion:- Protect your email list from bots in 2023
If bot attacks have become a regular occurrence in your company’s email lists or you’d like to be proactive in preventing them, use these tips to protect yourself in 2023. As they play an active part in malware and cyber attacks, businesses should actively prevent bot infiltration into their email list.
Not only does it cause frustration and potential data breaches, but it also delivers your marketing teams inaccurate information required to help grow your business and its customer relationships.